Utilizing AI for a safe return post-COVID
Florent Hediard, Director of Marketing at Navori Labs
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on retail and QSR operations. There have been countless new sanitary measures put in place, and regulations can vary wildly between countries and regions. Not surprisingly, these regulations are impacting both management and employees, as staff members are reassigned to perform tasks that fall outside their normal duties.
This might explain why we see so many digital signage screens repurposed and moved near storefronts or at points of entry. In most cases, these screens are meant to inform visitors and promote the use of face masks as people enter the premises.
As the Covid-19 situation continues, stores and restaurants are investing in new digital signage screens specifically for this purpose. Screens are popping up everywhere to help businesses as they deal with changing health and safety protocols, reminding people to socially distance, and wear masks during their visits.
Automating visitor access
The pandemic is forcing businesses to assign more resources to access control duties. Employees are being asked to regulate store traffic by greeting visitors and counting people as they enter and exit the premises. Many employees can end up reassigned depending on the number of entrances to monitor and the level of foot-traffic. This has let businesses to hire additional staff or increase work shifts, leading to higher operating costs and affects profit margins.
AI-based computer vision technologies and digital signage have become hot commodities during the pandemic. Combined, they provide an efficient and cost-effective way to manage site occupancy and enforce local sanitary rules.
Computer vision uses hardware (PCs, cameras) and software to scan and count visitors, while digital signage screens deliver live information as people line-up and wait. Screens show the number of people who are currently in the store, and they display the number of people who can enter when occupancy levels permit. Warnings and notices can also be shown when someone approaches an entrance without a face mask or when the maximum number of occupants has been achieved.
To make each shopper’s wait more pleasant and useful, screens can be programmed to display topical content such as local news or ads featuring on sale items. With computer vision and digital signage handling all visitor access and control duties, staff can resume their normal duties, like assisting shoppers or ringing-in sales.
Screen Messaging for AV Verticals
The pandemic has affected everyone both mentally and physically. In many cases, people have been confined for many weeks and are longing for social interaction. These social interactions are welcomed whether in a shopping on the weekend or moving about a corporate or higher ed campus. Just the same, the proper approach to messaging will bring benefits to digital signage across any AV vertical.
In the Retail and QSR vertical, many consumers have turned to e-commerce for their daily shopping and restaurant take-out/delivery needs, but not everyone is willing to sit and wait for their purchase to be delivered. It’s why people are still driven to go out and shop, as long as they aren’t under a full lock-down or curfew.
Retailers can leverage digital signage and related technologies to help shoppers complete their errands faster and safer by following these guidelines:
- Screens clearly indicate product locations on screens near the front of the store.
- Screens include safety policies and sanitary rules in their content programming.
- Content uses clean designs that are easy to read with fewer words for clarity.
- Touch-screens with interactive maps of their stores help shoppers find what they need.
In corporate or education environments, digital signage and modern communication techniques help staff, visitors and students manage added stress levels. during the pandemic. Integrators and tech managers have increasingly installed screens in common areas and cafeterias to display safety updates and deliver motivational/uplifting content. Some trends we have seemed emerge thematically include:
- Keeping associates and students informed about the latest sanitary standards and requirements.
- Promotion of mandated safety protocols and describe proper disinfection techniques.
- Highlighting best practices within corporate environments.
- Recognizing employee, faculty or student milestones.
- Improved engagement with success stories and positive messaging.
As we look toward a hopeful decline in Covid-19 as we move toward the middle of 2021, we all can benefit from better and more meaningful communication. Digital signage is quickly proving to be more than a simple informational source over the past several months – it has evolved into a platform that has helped businesses safely return from lockdowns, and with a human touch.
Sidebar: QL Access Control
Navori Labs released its AI-powered computer vision software, QL Access Control, at the onset of the pandemic. Available as a module within Navori’s latest QL DSS release, the application integrates with security cameras and other technologies for occupancy monitoring. QL Access Control counts visitors and deliver important safety information to visitors, with four integral features that also free staff to perform their traditionally duties:
- Monitor and count the number of visitors entering and exiting a building from multiple access points.
- Determine if a visitor is wearing a face mask regardless of its material or pattern.
- Display visual information in real-time, such as the number of occupants, number of people who can enter
- Display customized warning if someone isn’t wearing a face mask when interfaced with Navori’s QL powered digital signage screen network.